What should I be doing instead of this?
March 27th, 2009 By Jason Gargano | Movies |

Friday Movie Roundup: The Incredibly Shrinking Movie Industry


Is it just me or are there far fewer movies being released this year?

It’s not just me. A quick look back reveals that 24 different films appeared in at least one local movie house in March 2008. By contrast, 14 films will have been released over the same period in 2009.

Worse (and probably predictably), the quality of this year’s films seems to have vanished along with the quantity. Last March included such critically lauded and/or intriguing offerings (ie, films that possess some element of originality, creativity or the irresistibly cute and talented Amy Adams) as The Band’s Visit, The Bank Job, Diary of the Dead, Funny Games, Married Life, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Nanking, Sharkwater, Snow Angels, Stop-Loss and War Dance.


Amy Adams is the shit.

What do we have of interest this March? Let the Right One In, The Class, Crossing Over, Duplicity, I Love You, Man and Watchmen, the last four of which are getting mixed critical responses. That’s nearly a 50 percent drop in movies that even hit the level of “intriguing." Sound like your 401(k) statement?

So why are we getting fewer films in terms of both quality and quantity? The easy answer is that we’re in the middle of a recession. Yet in an endeavor where the gestation period between green-lighting a project and the final product hitting theaters can be more than a year, that explanation doesn’t tell the whole story. Two other factors seem to have had in impact: 1) the writer’s strike of late 2007, which led studios to lean even more heavily on formulaic genres like horror and teen comedy and/or scale back their release schedules, and 2) the downsizing of various art-house boutique labels like Thinkfilm.

But even those two factors seem be in their relatively early stages — recently defunct distributors like Paramount Vantage, Picturehouse and Warner Independent are just now rolling out the last of their release slates. Yes, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. By next March, a flawed but ambitious film like Wayne Kramer’s Crossing Over might seem like gold.

Opening Films:

CROSSING OVER — With so much drama and so many crossed narrative lines, the comparisons to Traffic and Crash will seem blatant and overplayed, but writer-director Wayne Kramer’s aim is more tightly focused than it might initially seem. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens Friday at Esquire Theatre.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated R.) Grade: C

THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT — The latest horror flick to hit theaters comes baring every movie marketer’s favorite tagline: “based on a true story.” First-time director Peter Cornwell centers his movie on the Campbell family, which moves into a Victorian where séances and other “unspeakable acts” once took place. And, yes, it’s not long before creepy supernatural beings make their presence known to the unsuspecting Campbells. Stars Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Amanda Crew, Martin Donovan and Elias Koteas. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated R.) Review coming soon.

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS — Creature features, alien invasions, 3-D gimmickry — from start to finish, Monsters vs. Aliens celebrates some of the staples of the 1950s B movie, and so in entertaining fashion. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Scott Renshaw (Rated PG.) Grade: B

12 ROUNDS — Veteran director Renny Harlin (Diehard 2, Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea) is at it again in this action/thriller about a New Orleans police officer (John Cena) whose fiancé (Ashley Scott) is kidnapped by a nefarious, revenge-obsessed thief (Aiden Gillen). (Opens wide today.) — JG (Rated PG-13.) Review coming soon.

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